State of Hawaii

No bonuses for advanced
degree teachers

The second round of bonuses cannot
be paid as there is no money

Star-Bulletin staff and news services

The Department of Education has informed the Hawaii State Teachers Association it has no money to pay a second round of bonuses to 6,675 teachers with advanced degrees.

The state had planned to use more than $11 million in federal impact aid to pay bonuses for 6,675 teachers, but will have to redirect the funds to cover a $32 million budget deficit, said Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen. "Basically, we had bills to pay and had to redirect funding to cover those bills," he said. Knudsen said the HSTA was informed last week.

HSTA president Karen Ginoza said, the teachers "are going to be angry, but more so it's really a feeling of disappointment, a feeling of not being valued, a feeling of being left out again."

The HSTA is looking at its legal options and will have its board take up the issue when it meets next week, she said.

The bonuses played a key role in settling a three-week strike by 13,000 public school teachers in April of last year. But the payments were delayed when the state and the Hawaii State Teachers Association disagreed over whether the bonuses applied to one or both years of the new contract. In February, the Hawaii Labor Relations Board ruled that the bonuses applied only to the first year and the state and the union would have to negotiate bonuses for the second year, contingent on the availability of surplus federal funds, Knudsen said. However, those funds have been tapped out to cover a 2-percent across-the-board budget cut and the $32 million shortfall in funds for special education, bus transportation charter schools and other salary costs.

Coming up with $11 million to cover the bonuses would require cutting program budgets across the board. "Any more reduction in that general area would clearly affect positions and mean more severe cutbacks in other programs," he said.

While the teachers with advanced degrees will not receive a one-time bonus, all teachers will receive a more than 6 percent raise on Aug. 20, with another wage increase to follow in January, Knudsen said.

State Department of Education

E-mail to City Desk


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